'Biggest police operation': Navalny supporters targeted in raids

13 Septembre, 2019, 01:38 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Alexei Navalny

Russian law enforcement authorities on Thursday carried out at least 150 searches of homes and offices belonging to supporters of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, Leonid Volkov, a senior Navalny ally, wrote on social media.

"We are not going to stop our work, don't you worry about that", Navalny said in a video message in which he mocked authorities for the raids, comparing them to a crackdown on a drug cartel. Mr. Navalny had asked his supporters to vote for whichever candidate had the best chance of defeating United Russia in their district.

These were only the latest searches in a money laundering case opened against Mr Navalny's anti-corruption foundation during an August 3 protest in Moscow, one of several huge demonstrations against the refusal to register almost two dozen liberal opposition candidates for the Moscow city council race.

Oleg Kozlovsky, a Moscow-based researcher for Amnesty International, said the police action was intended "to cripple Navalny's infrastructure financially and to intimidate opposition supporters". Though Navalny was barred from running, his supporters in local election headquarters in dozens of Russian cities have grown in number and in force, investigating high-level corruption and mobilizing supporters for opposition rallies.

The 43-year-old Navalny has always been a thorn in the side of the Kremlin.

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State investigators last month opened a criminal investigation into the alleged laundering of 1bn rubles ($15m) by that foundation.

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny's spokeswoman, said on Thursday that the scale and nature of the latest raids were unprecedented.

Alexei Navalny shows his ballot as he arrives to vote during a city council election in Moscow on Sunday. He linked the searches to Navalny's tactical voting strategy and said the homes of activists, their relatives and the regional headquarters of Navalny's movement were being targeted.

"The state has two tasks - to frighten and steal", Volkov wrote.

Golos, a non-governmental organisation that monitors Russian elections, said on Thursday that the homes of its activists were also being raided by the authorities.

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